Canada Extradites Chinese Fugitive: “The future, yet to be seen by both countries and others, will stand as witness to the outcome”

It may be no coincidence that China Daily is the likeliest source for  information about countries which have concluded extradition treaties with Beijing so far. To governments of countries where the rule of law applies, but who entered such treaties with China all the same, the issue should be, and quite likely is, a rather awkward one.

Radio Canada International QSL, 1988

Once upon a Time: Radio Canada International QSL, 1988

But it may emerge on the front pages when the agreed rules are actually applied.

China’s most wanted man flies home,

reads the Vancouver Sun‘s headline. The man in question is Lai Changxing (賴昌星), about whom the Vancouver Sun article says that

China accuses Lai of running a multibillion-dollar smuggling operation in the southeastern city of Xiamen in the 1990s in one of China’s biggest political scandals. After his escape to Canada, Lai set in motion one of the most complex refugee cases in this country’s history.

Canadian officials had dismissed Lai’s or his defense team’s arguments that he could be tortured, executed, or that he will die of some mysterious illness or something bad will happen to him, as Darryl Lawson, one of his defenders, is quoted by the Vancouver Sun. J. Michael Cole, the Taipei Times‘ deputy news editor, writes that while a death sentence brought by a Chinese court may not be in the pipeline for Lai, one of Lai’s brothers died while in detention in a Chinese jail – referred to as as a mysterious prison death by the Globe and Mail on Friday.

It is assumed that the assurances of the Chinese government, as per its written promises, will be kept, as the Chinese government’s honour and face is, and will be, bound and kept respectively, by the monitoring for the lifetime of the applicant…,

the Globe and Mail quotes Federal Court judge Michel Shore. These assurances included an arrangement which would also allow Canadian officials to visit Mr. Lai and sit in on some of his court hearings, Shore argued.

Another counsel to Lai, David Matas, had told the court that

Canadians were only promised access to “open court,” meaning officials couldn’t attend any hearings closed to the public – common practice for politically sensitive proceedings. He added that it would be next to impossible to find a lawyer to represent Mr. Lai who wasn’t influenced by the Communist Party, since the government had turned him into the “poster boy” for corruption.

But none of the issues raised by Lai, due to the Chinese government’s assurances, amounted to clear and convincing proof necessary to support his irreparable harm claim – that’s how the Globe and Mail indirectly quotes Shore. Lai’s extradition went ahead on Friday.

The court may not be to blame, if the  extradition treaty itself really requires clear and convincing proof that no harm may be done to an extradited person before stopping the process.

If Lai should indeed die in prison, before or after trial, by whatever cause declared by Chinese authorities, those who support the extradition treaty in general and Lai’s extradition in particular may still argue that there is no clear and convincing proof that harm had indeed been done.

Once upon a time, Canada was seen as a champion of human rights.

It’s hard to see that these days. But then, business with the Soviet Union never counted for a lot.

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Updates / Related
» U.S. cooperating with China, Reuters, July 28, 2011

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2 Comments to “Canada Extradites Chinese Fugitive: “The future, yet to be seen by both countries and others, will stand as witness to the outcome””

  1. Lai, in my opinion, is probably guilty of a crime. However, his defense is probably accurate. At the very least, no country which forbids the death penalty should extradite to one which allows it without assurances that it won’t be carried out. This, at least,was the arrangement between Britain and the US after an ECHR ruling.

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  2. I don’t really think that Lai will be sentenced to death – or if so, there will be no official execution. But (supposedly) guilty or not – Canada is betraying the standard that a person is innocent until proven otherwise. There will be no justice in China.

    If Canada was flooded by economic crime suspects from China, I might be more understanding (even if not supportive) – but China’s mittelstand isn’t big enough for a big wave of that kind of fugitives yet.

    It’s business interest, and that stinks.

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